Our training notes often show schooling at the farm but may also
include cross country schoolings and trail rides away from the
farm. Go back through our notes to see how we train our off-the-track
Thoroughbreds and prepare them for new careers as sport horses.
Political Pull on his first "away" trip.
March 4, 2007
Trailer Rides and Cross Country Schooling
Riding a Thoroughbred cross country is one of the most fun adventures
you will ever have. I like taking young horses or horses newly
off-the-track out with more experienced horses for schooling.
The cross country courses (or fox hunting territory) is so different
than the race track that it becomes a fun experience for the horse
as well as rider. We try to get the horses out of the arena as
sure as we feel that we can safely control the horse should something
scare him. The next step is getting them off-the-farm for a new
Political Pull on his second "away" trip.
March 24, 2007
The first trailer ride after coming off-the-track
For some horses, the first trip away from the farm brings back
the fear of returning to the track. One of our horses started trembling
and broke into a full sweat, just because he was loaded onto the
trailer. As soon as we arrived at the quiet cross country site,
he calmed down and cooled off.
Take along some "friends" when
going on a new adventure.
Remember, horses have no idea
what awaits them when the ramp is dropped down at the end of
the trailer ride. For ex-racers, it usually means another race
day, at another track. The more you can take your horse on short
quick, and fun (for the horse) trips, the more he will start to
enjoy getting into the trailer. He will quickly learn that there
is no track where you are taking him. Don't make his first trip
away from the quiet of your farm to a chaotic horse show - even
if you are not competing. Take him somewhere peaceful and as dissimilar
to the race track as possible.
Political Pull on his first "away" trip
learning to cross creeks. March 4, 2007
Creek crossings with Political Pull and friends
Recently we took Political Pull to Dawson Forest
to learn how to cross water. He was not at all upset about getting
on or off the trailer. The race track training paid off there.
He was well behaved and even though he was not thrilled about crossing
the creeks, by the end of the ride he was cantering in and out
of wide creek crossing.
Brew This, Joe Bear and Knight Villain enjoy
a trail ride at Dawson Forest. March 4, 2007
He had his buddies to comfort him but they
seemed unnecessary except crossing the first creek where "Brewster" agreed
to play "pony horse" and lead Political
Pull across the small
creek. Again, bring along a calm horse that has a "Been there,
Done that attitude" to the task that is new to your horse.
Knight Villain and Tammy cross the creek without issue or hands!
Villain was an old hand at going trail
riding and he followed his mom Tammy Gullet right up and into the
trailer without hesitation. He used to not load well for fear of
returning to the track but he is so dedicated to Tammy that he
will follow her anywhere and even free lunge without a lunge line!
Never underestimate the value of ground work to build trust
and obedience with your horse. Knight
Villain is not at all
put off about water so he was a good horse to bring along to
calm "Pull's" fears.
Knight Villain loves Tammy.
We brought along several horses that enjoy going through water
and they were able to communicate to Political Pull that
the water was fun and not going to hurt him. Joe
Bear was the first horse into the
water and before long everyone was trotting and cantering in the
Joe Bear and his mom Paula Gunnels. March
Lessons like these pay off when you go to a competition and there
is water on the course!
Pride of the Fox and Irish Morning Mist walk through a pond at
the hunter pace. March 24, 2007
Cross country schooling
For Political Pull's second trip away from home, we choose the
Shamrock Hounds Hunter Pace. Hunter paces are fun and a great opportunity
to school all types of cross country fences. "Pull" had only jumped
a few of our cross country fences before going on his first cross
country ride away from home.
Political Pull on his second "away" trip.
March 24, 2007
Pull loaded without any issues and so did Pride
of the Fox, "Brewster" and Irish
Morning Mist. They were quiet when we
arrived at the event and remained quiet - even
as another non-Thoroughbred reared up and fell over on his rider
when waiting to start the ride.
Brew This, Irish Morning Mist and Pride of the Fox.
We used the hunter pace as a chance to school the small fences
- not really as a competition. Winning should never be the goal
in early outings. If you scare you horse, you will loose his trust
and your training will be that much more difficult. Take you time
and have patience.
Pride of the Fox's first
time on a real cross-country ride. March 24, 2007
We entered the
Blue Bird Division (the slowest) over fences. We walked, trotted
and cantered (and sometimes galloped) between fences. At each
fence we took turns jumping the fence until the horse was confidently
jumping it. The day was filled with photo ops and Political
happy to be my moving tripod for the day sometimes allowing me
to capture the other horses in full stride, galloping along side,
in the wide open fields!
Pride of the Fox and Ally Giles
enjoyed galloping during the ride, and then one minute later, "Foxy" was
walking calmly on a loose rein. Both horse and rider had great
big smiles all day long!
These photos were taken as Ally was trying
to slow "Foxy" down
as he and "Pull" decided to "race" each
other when I came along side to take the photo. "Pull" was
quiet enough even at a gallop to take these photos. Both horses
came down to a walk when asked. What is even more important is
that they did not get "hot" and difficult to handle just
because we had let them run. These Thoroughbreds know the difference
between being at a race track and riding with their special friend.
Several times during the day, "Brewster" acted
as tripod for Barry to capture "Pull's" big
adventure. "Pull" jumped stone walls
and coops for the first time. He proved himself to be bold and
brave and best of all - quiet. All the horses were well behaved.
It helped being with their quiet experienced buddies.
Brew This, Pride of the Fox and Irish Morning Mist overlooking the
Atlanta Steeplechase race course.
Morning Mist and Megan Brown at the Shamrock Hounds Pony Club hunter
pace - March 24, 2007
We had a great time - it was a well run event and the horses enjoyed
the outing. In the end, Political Pull ended
up winning the "Blue" in
the Bluebird Over Fences division - by pure chance. Each of
the horses finished behind him - winning second, third and fourth
places. The ribbons were just icing on the cake for a fantastic
day! Our mission was to expose the horse to new places and teach
them to jump cross country fences. I say, "Mission
A fun day was topped by winning first through
fourth place ribbons.
The horses mentioned in this Training
Note from Elizabeth:
of the Fox and Political
Pull are horses for sale at
& Bytes Farm. "Brew This" is Barry's "Special
Reserve" horse and Irish
Morning Mist was one of the first horses sold from Bits
& Bytes Farm. He is now owned by Megan Brown. Joe
Bear was recently purchased
by Paula Gunnel's husband as a Valentine's Day gift for his wife
who had been leasing "Special
Reserve" horse - Joe Bear for several
years. Tammy Gullet is mom to Knight
Villain who was a former Bits
& Bytes Farm "Special
as well. Miss
with Attitude aka "Pooky" was a Prospect
Horse for sale when she was purchased by Laura Durham-Dixon.
She is also featured on our "How
to Buy a Prospect Horse" page.